Customs grants reprieve for owners of smuggled cars

Abiola Seun       I         

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has opened a platform for vehicle importers, owners and organised vehicle dealers to pay Customs duty on smuggled, under valued vehicles in the country.

This was disclosed by the Customs Area Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone A, Compt. Muhammed Aliyu in a chat with journalists yesterday.

The CAC who stated that about 150 car marts were sealed at Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki said the unit seized over 5000 bags of foreign rice smuggled into the country.

He said the platform was not for already seized or condemned vehicles but assured Nigerians that vehicles voluntarily brought forward by the owners for payment of duty won’t be seized.

According to him, the decision to open the platform was to allow Nigerians who drive smuggled or under-valued vehicles to regularise their Customs duty.

He said, “for the category of vehicles that were detained, we have a platform now where they have the opportunity to pay their Customs duty.

“At the same time, we have given a window for someone who has his or her personal car and hasn’t paid duty to come forward as the federal government has given an opportunity to come forward willingly to pay the duty.

“But, the issue is that the owner have to come forward with the vehicles because it is more advantageous. Also, the vehicles whose duty was to be paid on may be bought in 2015 or 2016 and have been using it without Customs duty but now, we have agreed and allowed them to come and make necessary duty payment.”

Aliyu who explained the reasons the service ask vehicles to be brought forward was to have accurate assessment of the vehicles, while  urging Nigerians to make use of the window before it closes.

“If you decide to bring documents and we work on it, you may end up paying higher but if you bring the vehicle and we see that it is aged, we can give you low value. So, the advice is that you bring the vehicle down for accessment. The opportunity is given to Nigerians through the new platform to  regularise their papers and go back with it.

” I will advise that immediately you get the assessment, it is paid quickly because no timeline or duration on when it will end and it is an opportunity all over the nation so, I want to tell Nigerians that the platform isn’t a scam but a platform put in place by the service for Nigerians to move their vehicles around the country without any hindrance.”

Speaking on the car marts that were sealed, the CAC said some of the shut car marts have been opened after due diligence have been observed.

“I can say that from VI and Lekki, we sealed not less than 150 car marts but we have held meetings with them and they asked on how to pay but we advise them if they can reach agreement with us, we take inventory of the vehicles, open a small side where they sell their vehicles and they pay up within two weeks and that was how we simplified the job.”

“The reason for shutting down the car marts is to authenticate the marts that pay duty while those that didn’t pay were asked to come down and pay the actual duty to the federal government.

“Also, when we take inventories of the vehicles, the owners will show the documents they pay duty on and we go to our system to confirm if it is genuine and the bench mark is okay, we allow it to go but for those who doesn’t meet our benchmark, we ask them to pay the shortfall and pick their vehicles.

He however said that the car mart closure was not only in Lagos but nationwide and the Federal Capital Territory.

“Not only Lagos but all over the country, what you are seeing here is what you see in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Portharcourt e.t.c.”

Speaking on the seizures, he said the contraband seized between August to October 20, 2019 had a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N315million while N104.4million revenue was collected between Auvust and September 2019.

He said, “5,200 bags of foreign parboiled rice with DPV of N68.4million were seized, 5117 kegs of vegetable oil valued at N61.4million, 339 cartons of phamaciticals without registration number from tbe National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), 115 bags of used bags and shoes worth N4.6million.”

“Others are, 2,562 bales of used cloths worth N128.1million and 2,204 cartons of frozen poultry products worth N22million.”

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